SPOILERS: None to speak of
DISCLAIMER: TWW and its characters are the sole creation and property of Aaron Sorkin. No copyright infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: Sam runs smack into his past during the first campaign.
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THANKS TO: amerella, as always. You name it, she does it.
Liar by Abigale
Oh god. No, no. I'm a stupid son of a bitch, but I would *never* have given him my real name. I don't do that. I've become quite adept at either avoiding the question altogether, or coming up with something feasible on the spot. A lot of times I go with 'Josh.'
"Hey." Brian. Or, Brad? Or whatever the hell *your* real name is. "How's it going?"
"This is, hm. This is pretty weird, huh?"
Weird. Yes. "Yes, it is. What are you doing in...?" I can't even remember where I am. "Boston."
"I... live here? Where did you think I'd be?"
Shit. Shit! Now I remember. Not Brian, Brad or Brett. Kelvin. Shit. Boston. "No, I - of course. This is where you live. I meant here, what are you doing... well, obviously you're getting copies made." Obviously. Just like last time.
"Yeah. So. How have you been?"
To be perfectly honest with you - a fatal flaw, or so CJ keeps telling me; if she only knew - I'm a lot better now than I was last time I, um, saw you. "Great. You? Kelvin."
"Pretty good. I've started a new semester. Much better. And I... I took your advice. That professor? I transferred out. So it's cool."
"MIT." I do remember.
Good. Great. I should remember; I should remember more. The professor... no, I don't remember. But I'm glad it worked out, whatever it was. And I helped? Well, that's something new. I like that. "I'm glad to hear it. That it's going well."
"So. You're back in town?"
I look down at the thick sheaf of pages in my hand that I can't bear to let anyone else handle. The product of four days in a hotel room with Toby breathing over my shoulder, clicking his pen in my ear, daring me to impress him. "Yeah. Just for another day. Then it's, you know, back on the road."
"Your job. Public - "
"Right. I, I relate to the public."
God. Now, so do I. Everything. The soft down on his stomach. The slapping of the headboard against the wall. A screen door squeaking every time his roommate went in and out of the house with her dog. Textbooks stacked on the only chair, and a hot, thick tongue he used to make a guttural, strangled sound escape from my throat.
I know I am. I can feel it, and I'm helpless. So helpless. It's not funny, but I laugh. A laugh like an offering, to this blonde, young grad student from MIT who thought I was funny and worked in public relations and lived in Mattapan, and thought I'd call him the next day. "I'm sorry." For laughing. For not being in public relations. For not calling.
"You - "
"Yeah, it's cool. I knew you wouldn't call."
"I'm sorry," I respond again reflexively.
"You don't really live in Boston. That's... I can tell. So I figured the rest was a lie too."
I lied to him. I really didn't mean to do that. But what are you gonna do? I work for the man who's going to be the next President of the United States, so I'd rather you didn't know who I was, Brian-Brad-Brett. Kelvin.
"You must think I'm an asshole."
"Well, you *are* an asshole, so...."
"I'm *really* sorry." But I told you my real name. That, that has to count for something.
"So, your real name isn't Sam, is it?"
"No. No. It's.... Josh. I'm - "
"Sorry; I know."
I'm still lying to him. When did I become someone who tries to fix a lie with another lie? When did I become someone who actually finds comfort and protection in the beds of people I won't tell my real name to? And more importantly, when did I stop? When did I start to realize that the comfort was avoidance and the protection was submission?
"Yeah. So. I'd like to.... Well, I can't make it up to you. But maybe I could buy you a cup of...."
"Um. I don't think so. It isn't that I'm mad at you. But. I have someone now. I'm with someone."
So do I. So am I. I have someone too. He cares about what I do to myself, body and mind. He watches me, and listens to me. He's proud of what I've done and what I can do, and he wants me to be a part of his life. And he'll never know; how that's saved me. From extinction. From sweet blonde grad students and from myself.
"That's great." I tell him again. "That's... good. Okay." It's okay.
"Well, it was good to see you. I'm glad we bumped into each other. I've... thought of you. So this was good."
I have never given you another day's thought since that one night. But I'm glad I ran into you, too. Kelvin.
"Me too, Kelvin. Take care."
I see a look pass over him. I don't know what it is. And for the rest of the day, the rest of the night, I think about it and him, and realize that I've given him more thought now than I did after we'd made each other howl with release almost a year ago. After he'd told me about how his sister had just lost a baby, and his professor was making passes at him, and his thesis, Spectral Methods for Boundary Value Problems in Fluid Mechanics, was making his head swim.
It makes me feel better. That I remembered all that. And that he has someone. And that I have someone too.
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